Numbers 31:1-24

War against the Midianites

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘You must punish the Midianites because they caused the Israelites to worship idols. After you have done that, you will die.’

3 Moses said to the people, ‘Choose some men to go and fight against the Midianites. Give them weapons to punish the Midianites as the Lord wants. 4 Choose 1,000 men from each Israelite tribe to go and fight.’

5 They did that. There were 12,000 men ready with weapons to fight the battle. 6 Moses sent those men out to fight. There were 1,000 men from each tribe. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, went with them. Phinehas took with him the special things from God's Holy Tent. He also took the trumpets to make sounds for the battle.

7 They attacked the Midianites as the Lord had told them. They killed all the men. 8 That included the five kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba. They also killed Balaam, the son of Beor, with a sword.

9 Israel's men took hold of the women and children of Midian. They took their animals and everything that was valuable. 10 They burned all their towns and their camps. 11 They took for themselves the people, the animals and everything that was valuable. 12 They took all the prisoners and the things that they had taken to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest. They brought them to the camp of the Israelites. That was on the flat ground in Moab beside the Jordan river. Jericho was on the other side of the river.

13 Moses, Eleazar and the leaders of the Israelites went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the leaders and the officers of the army who had come back from the battle against the Midianites.

15 Moses said to them, ‘Why have you let all the women live? 16 You should not have done that. These women caused the Israelites to turn against the Lord. They did what Balaam said to them at Peor. As a result, a bad illness killed many of the Lord's people. 17 Because of that, kill all the boys, and kill every woman who has had sex with a man. 18 But as for the girls who have not had sex with a man, you may keep them for yourselves.’

19 Moses said, ‘Any soldier who has killed someone, or who has touched a dead body is unclean. He must stay outside the camp for seven days. On the third day and on the seventh day, you must wash yourselves to become clean. You must do the same thing to your Midianite prisoners. 20 You must also make these things clean: any clothes or anything made from leather, wool or wood.’

21 Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers, ‘This is the rule that the Lord told Moses: 22 You must put all the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, and other metals in a fire. 23 Put in the fire anything that the fire will not destroy. The fire will make those things clean. But you must also wash them with water. As for anything that the fire would destroy, wash them with water to make them clean. 24 On the seventh day, you must wash your clothes. After that you will be clean again. Then you can come into the camp.’